What is sustainable tourism?

Aug 24, 2022

What is sustainable travel

What does sustainability have to do with travel?

We all want to be enriched by new places and experiences- we travel to be moved and to expand the dimensions of our mind. We’re looking at the Colosseum or the Eiffel tower, but we’re feeling something inside ourselves that we don’t in our everyday lives. 

Most people don’t give much thought to how they can enrich the destinations that they visit. But you’re not most people! Spoiler alert: it doesn’t take much effort to have a positive impact when you’re traveling, but it makes a massive difference to local communities.

Sustainability = meeting the needs of the present without compromising those of the future. So sustainable tourism means traveling in a way that you can enjoy and enrich yourself, but also leave a positive mark on the places you visit.

Traveling sustainably is easy and it will really add to your sense of joy and fulfillment while you travel There are a few simple things you can do while you’re planning and enjoying your destination.

Here’s the official take from the UN Environment Program and World Tourism Organization: sustainable tourism is “tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities.

So while positive impacts may include local job creation, cultural heritage preservation, and wildlife conservation, negative impacts are things like economic leakage, inadvertent damage to the natural, cultural, or historical sites, and overcrowding.

Before you jump down my throat, I’m not  telling you that you can’t go to destinations that are crowded. They’re crowded for a reason- we all want to see them!

What I’m saying is that everywhere you go, you have the chance to make your visit a garden, planting seeds for a better tomorrow, instead of a sinkhole. How? Take a look at my sustainable travel checklist ⬇️

Checklist for sustainable travel:

  • Don’t be a shithead

    Action: If something says “do not touch,” “do not enter,” or anything along those lines, there’s a reason. Respect local guidance.

  • Help out the locals. You contribute to viable, long-term economic operations like stable employment and income-earning opportunities, which contributes to poverty alleviation.

    Action: Instead of going to Margaritaville in the Caribbean, try the farmers markets, street food, and local hangouts! I guarantee the food is better and the atmosphere is more interesting. 

  • If you’re planning something fun around environmental resources that are key to tourism in that destination, you can help conserve the natural environment and biodiversity.

    Action: Pay attention to signs and instructions. Don’t touch coral reefs, or carve your name into anything. Use reef-safe sunscreen, take your trash with you, and never remove any nature from its environment. Use your common sense.

  • Respect the socio-cultural authenticity of communities. Help conserve their cultural heritage and traditional values and contribute to inter-cultural understanding and tolerance.

    Action: Take the time to appreciate the uniqueness of the people and history of your destination.

One of my favorite pro tips is to use Airbnb experiences. Airbnb is NOT just lodging. I’ve gone diving in a glacier in Iceland, learned to make pasta in Italy, and wine tasting at a family vineyard in France with local people who offer up authentic experiences on Airbnb

Sustainable tourism also means a high level of tourist satisfaction and meaningful travel experiences. Remember: it feels good to do good!

Looking for more? Check out the travel essentials shop! I’ve tried & tested an embarrassing amount of travel products for comfort, durability, & style and rounded up the best-of-the-best travel must-haves just for you!

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